February 10, 2019
By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources
WALNUT, CA--As one of the pioneering districts in the San Gabriel Valley, Walnut Valley’s Mandarin Dual Language (DLI) program is now available for kindergarten through seventh grade students.
Hundreds of students are reaping the benefits of speaking multiple languages at an early age.
During the past eight years, the program has grown from 46 students to over 300 kindergarten through fifth grade students at Walnut Elementary.
In 2017, DLI expanded to South Pointe Middle School and now serves nearly 80 sixth and seventh grade students, with plans to expand to eighth grade for the 2019-2020 school year.
Students participate in a 50-50 program, where half of the day is spent learning in a Mandarin-speaking environment.
“The children soak up the new language like little sponges,” said first grade teacher Henry Lin who sees tremendous growth of the young learners each year.
“I enjoy DLI because I get to learn a new language – and that’s pretty cool!” commented fifth grader Logan Lee who has been in the program since kindergarten.
Last week, Walnut Elementary fifth grade students practiced their speaking, listening, and reading skills while acting out a script in reader’s theater.
Mandarin teacher Isabelle Lin then utilized Project GLAD strategies during a social studies lesson to help students get a better understanding of the Thirteen Colonies.
As they listened to their teacher re-tell a story, the children inserted pictures and vocabulary words in the correct location on a chart.
“It’s a review and also an informal assessment for me to know if they understand the content,” Lin said.
Later that morning, the group rehearsed for the schoolwide Lunar New Year celebration with choreographed songs and skits presented entirely in Mandarin.
Each grade level of DLI classes took the stage to perform for families and schoolmates on February 6 and 7.
South Pointe seventh graders engaged their knowledge during 30-second “freeze frame” poses while reporting on Roman achievements.
During the lesson, one group portrayed a Roman Dome, while another shared about the thousand miles of Roman roads built in 300 BC.
“I believe this DLI program not only exposes students to the Mandarin language, but also enables them to appreciate Chinese and Taiwanese cultures and lifestyles,” commented social studies teacher Jared Wu.
The strong and rigorous model has been developed through the extensive research and collaboration at both schools.
“Our DLI students are performing at or above their grade level standards in all core subject areas – English, math, social studies, and science,” said Walnut Elementary Principal Robert Chang.
“And our program is successful because of our fantastic teachers!”
The ultimate goal for the dual language immersion plan is to help develop bilingualism, biliteracy, and an enhanced awareness of cultural diversity.
“Dual language is more than just language acquisition,” said South Pointe Middle School Principal Dr. Susan Arzola.
“It’s having that deep understanding and respect for the Chinese people and their very rich culture.”
Walnut Elementary Dual Language Immersion classes present Lunar New Year program on February 6 and 7.
Walnut Elementary fifth grade DLI students practice speaking, listening, and reading during reader’s theater lesson.
Walnut Elementary first graders practice days of the week with teacher Henry Lin.
Mandarin teacher Isabelle Lin leads asocial studies lesson with fifth grade DLI students.
Walnut Elementary DLI students rehearse for Lunar New Year celebration.
South Pointe Middle School DLI seventh graders test their Roman history knowledge during freeze frame activity.
South Pointe Middle School DLI sixth graders collaborate during social studies lesson.